tv FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace FOX News February 12, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PST
>> chris: i'm chris wallace. the republican presidential race is thrown up for grabs and a healthcare controversy creates a catholic backlash against president obama. will the white house compromise on birth control insurance quiet the uproar? and is the president's new you budget about politics or governing? we'll discuss both with new white house chief of staff jack lew. then, she is not running for president but she could have a big say in who wins the nomination. we'll sit down with former vice presidential candidate sarah palin. it is a "fox news sunday" exclusive. plus, president obama flips on campaign finance and struggles
with a mandate on contraception. we'll ask our sunday panel what it all means for his reelection campaign. and our power player of the week finds a new way to celebrate abraham lincoln all right now on "fox news sunday." >> chris: and hello again from fox news in washington. tomorrow the obama administration rolls out its budget for next year. but the white house is still trying to put out the fire created by its plan to have catholic institutions provide healthcare insurance for their employees including access to birth control. joining us to discuss both issues is the white house chief of staff jack lew. mr. lew, welcome to "fox news sunday." >> good to be here with you, chris. thanks. >> chris: before we get to the new budget and i promise we will i want to clear up lingering questions about the president's policy about
providing health insurance coverage for birth control for religious institutions. the president now says that the catholic institutions don't have to provide the coverage but the insurance companies do. the question, where does the president get the power to tell a private company they have to offer a product and offer it for free? >> well, chris, just to be clear. the president has the authority under the affordable care act to have these kinds of rules take effect. and the issue with this being for free is quite an interesting one. if you look at the cost of providing health insurance, it actually doesn't cost more to provide a plan with contra contraception coverage than it does without. >> chris: why not? >> look at an actuarial coverage it costs nor provide a plan without than it does with. it actually does not cost the insurance company money to do it. contraceptivesontra september
cost money. pills. >> if you look at the costs on its own you're right but the overall costs are taking care of a health of a woman it doesn't raise the cost of a plan. what the president did here was consistent with where he has been all along. he has very deeply that every woman's right to all forms of preventive healthcare. he has a belief we have to respect the religious liberties that the country is built on. the solution is consistent with the core principles and it got the support of a range of groups from the catholic health association and catholic charities to planned parenthood. we should put this issue to rest. the president was expecting this policy to be reached over a longer period of time. we said it would take a year to transition. we put it out in a quicker time frame because it wasn't helpful to have it linkerrin lingering. this will now put the issue to
rest. >> chris: the savings that alaw indianapolis companies to provide it -- that allow insurance companies to provide it for free is because of avoided pregnancies. >> issues because of the health of the women because there are aspects. >> chris: but you are not solving breast cancer by -- >> there are many health conditions in women affected by whether or not contraception is available. >> chris: here is the concern that some religious institutions have. the reason that you you get the "savings" is because of avoided pregnancies from ar artificial birth control which is the objection that the religious institutions find objectionable in the first place. >> every woman has a right to contraception. religious institutions don't have to provide it. >> religious institutions do and catholic charities. >> many employees that are not catholic as well as catholic
employees and this is a solution that works that they are not providing it so they are not offering it, they are not paying for it. and women have the choice on their own. so we think it is consistent with the principles that the president set out. >> chris: you say it is consistent. the catholic bishops are clearly not satisfied with it, if i may, sir. they have issued a statement that says that they view the decision by the president the revision with grave moral concern. let's put up their statement on the concern. today's proprosal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions and threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions and, sir,, they call on congress to block the president's policy. >> i think the president's policy does not do that. it does not force an institution that has a religious principle to offer or pay for benefits they find
objectionable. but it guarantees a woman's right to access. we think that is the right solution. there are others who oppose women's access to contraception and they have different views than we do. i'm not going to speak to the motives of the parties but it is quite significant that a range of catholic organizations has embraced this. we didn't expect to get the universal support of the bishops or all catholics. i think that what we have here is a policy that reflects bringing together of two very important principles in a way that is true to the american tradition and that is what the president is trying to do. there are others who want to have a clash over it and we want to bring the two principles together. >> chris: but you say you are not getting universal support. there are others, this is the conference of catholic bishops. this is the most powerful statement by the catholic church in this country and they view it with great moral concern and say it should be turned around. >> i can't speak to the differences within the catholic churchle. >> chris: how do you respond to the statement this is
government coercion. >> the catholic health association knows what it requires to provide healthcare in the country and though thought it was a good solution. they understand what the policy is. >> chris: so the bishops are wrong? >> i think our policy is the right policy. there is broad support though not universal support for it and we think this is the right way to go. >> chris: so you are not going to change despite what the bishops said? >> our policy is clear. >> chris: meaning no revisions of the revisions. >> we have set out our policy. >> chris: and that is it? >> we will finalize it in the final rules. what the president announced on friday is a balanced approach that meets the concerns raised both in terms of access to healthcare and in terms of protecting religious liberties and we think that is the right approach. >> chris: mr. lew, i think it is fair to say this is precisely why so many people and i understand you could argue whether it as majority or minority why so many people oppose obama care. they are concerned that the
government can mandate what people have to do, what private businesses have to do, what even religious institutions have to do. >> i think that the notion that this is about should we provide basic healthcare to all americans is not the issue. there are differences to whether or not the affordable care act is the right approach. we think providing coverage to tens of millions of americans and making sure that we have a healthcare system that provides the kind of care that people need that will help drive down the cost of healthcare in this country is a very important thing. this question of the impact on religious institutions is something we took seriously right from the start. that is why when the policy was announced we said it would take 13 months to transition in in a way that would be respectful of the differences. i think we addressed that. this concern is one that people can disagree on the margins about but we have addressed the core issue. no institution that has not
profit institution that has religious principles that we violated has to pay for or directly offer the services but women have access to the kinds of care they are entitled to. we think that is the right approach. >> chris: let's turn to the budget. you officially release it tomorrow but you we already know the broad outlines and let's go through them. cut the deficitly more than $3 trillion. half comes from spending cuts. half, more than $1.5 trillion from new taxes on corporations and the wealthy. to entitlements.al changes here is how congressman paul ryan describes it. >> seems as if the president is doing little more than class envy and the status quo which is the greatest threat it our health security and retirement security and natural security and economic security. >> chris: question, isn't this the same plan the president proposed in september that congress has already rejected? >> this. >> well, this is a plan similar. we put out a detailed plan for
$4 trillion not $3 trillion the deficit reduction because it is built on the trillion dollars of savings already agreed to. >> chris: $3 trillion in new cuts. >> the goal was $4 trillion and this gets us to the goal. we can't keep moving the marker. >> but taking the trillion dollars already agreed to as part of the budget deal in august. >> we implemented the trillion dollars agreed to and that means making tough decisions. $4 trillion in savings. revenuey dollar of refs there there is 2.5 dollars of spending cuts. >> chris: because you are including the other trillion. >> it is having impact on all of the agencies of government. >> chris: in terms of new deficit reduction it is $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and $1.5 trillion in new taxs. >> we can square reelectio watr or not we should reset the bar each time. this gets us there in a way
that is consistent with a blueprint to build an economy that can last in the future. a manufacturing base and americans with skills we need for the future and an energy program with i independence and ability to generate energy and consistent with american values. everybody has a fair shot and plays their fair share and plays by the same rules. that is very important. i think that the notion that $4 trillion of deficit reduction is not serious is a little bit hard to accept when congress has been unable to even implement the trillion dollars of savings mandated by the budget agreement. >> chris: let me ask you about the question of not serious. you are claiming $850 billion in savings spending savings over the next decade by ending the wars in iraq and afghanistan. $850 billion. as the former director as you were until a few weeks ago of the office of management and budget. isn't that a classic washington gimmick that you are going to claim savings from money that
you weren't going to save anyway instead of cutting real programs? >> chris, i don't agree with that. i think that the policy to get out of iraq, to reduce and eliminate our military presence there was very real. i think that if we don't lower the caps that permit that spending there will be a natural process of seeing military spending grow. we have $487 billion of savings in the defense department over -- in the security area over the ten year period. closing down this backdoor is part of making sure we get those savings. it is very real. i guarantee you that if we don't take the action that has been proposed there will be leakage and that money will end up he getting spent. if there is going to be discipline in the budget you to lower the amount spent in that area. >> chris: in 2009 president obama one month after he took office made a promise. let's take a look. >> today i'm pledging to cut
the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office. >> chris: but these are the numbers. the deficit that year that he was talking about was $1.4 trillion and your new budget you project the deficit for 2012 the end of the president's term will be $1.3 trillion. mr. lew, the president isn't close to keeping his promise to cut the deficit in half. >> the plan the president is going to be sending to congress tomorrow will reduce the deficit to the point that over the period covered by the budget the deficit as a percentage of gdp will be less than 3%. stop having new spending adding to the deficit. that is a hugely important accomplishment. stablize ourselves in the terms that all of the international financial institutions are looking to. >> chris: he didn't keep the promise to cut the deficit in half. >> we were losing jobs at a rate of 750,000 jobs a month. last month we gained 250,000
jobs. we had to take a lot of action in the recovery act. the economy was softer than any one knew at the time and had less refs coming in an revenued there was a deeper hole to dig out of than any one could have envisioned in january of 2009. >> chris: this is february when you already say you knew about the fact that the deficit was worse. would you agree that he didn't keep the promise? >> i would say that as the 2009 and 2010 went on we all learned more about the depth of the recession we inherited which we have very -- worked very hard to dig out of. we are in a place where we have momentum and the economy is growing. not enough. there aren't enough jobs and there is not enough economic growth. we are heading in the right direction. the question is is washington going to be part of the solution or part of the problem. it is so important for congress to pass the payroll tax this month and so important that we not have the kind of dysfunction that last year became part of the uncertainty that held back the economy. we can be part of the solution or part of the problem. and the president proposed a plan that would be part of the
solution. >> chris: one last question. running out of time. the slaughter continues in syria. the assad government has killed 7,000 opponents of the regime but the president refuses to work with the allies and arm the rebels and impose a know drive zone or humanitarian corridor for refugees. here is what mr. obama said last month about libya. >> to brush aside america's responsibility as a leader and more profoundly responsibilities to fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. >> chris: if turning a blind eye to atrocities is a betrayal of who we are why isn't it the same betrayal to stand on the sidelines and watch slaughter in syria? >> i think that is not an accurate description of what we are doing. >> chris: are we arming the rebels? >> we have been bringing pressure to bear serious
financial pressure and the government in syria is feeling it. the lack of control results from that. >> chris: the slaughter intensified. >> the international commune sit joining in that importantly the arab league and our allies. >> chris: has it stopped the slaughter? >> the transition from tyranny to democracy have very hard. the syrian people have to handle this in a way that works in syria. and the brutality of the assad regime is unacceptable and has to end. no question that this regime will come to an end. the only question is when. we are pursuing all avenues we can to bring pressure to bear. >> chris: we are not arming them and imposing a no drive zone. >> and to deal with the human rights problems that flow from it. the last thing needed in syria now is more violence. >> chris: so we can't stop the violence because that would create more violence? >> i think there is a lot of pressure being brought to bear and think that it has been effective and it will be effective.
with 38%. rick santorum came in second with 31. at cpac, sarah palin blew the lid off the conference with a firey keynote speech and she joins us here in the studio. governor, welcome back to "fox news sunday" for the first time here in washington, d.c. >> in the belly of the beast. thank you. >> chris: , well, you blistered barack obama in your speech. we will get to that. you also had a message for the republican establishment here in washington, end the croney capitalism and bring the tea peter leadership. >> the tea party members of congress have fulfilled their promise to the people that hired them and promised they would do all they can to rein in the growth of government. in some ways they have been punished for fulfilling their are promises. they have been ostracized and dismissed and lied about by the president and we would hope that the leadership in congress especially within our own party that they would start at least accepting and really
appreciating what the tea party members have done. i would like to see them in leadership positions. >> who is -- you talk about it the republican establishment. who is the establishment and is john boehner part, mitch mcconnell. >> i consider any one part of the establishment those who today are fighting to keep the status quo. those who are allowing government to grow. who are allowing the president that plastic credit card that is increasing debt and they are not engaging in that sudden and relentless is reform that we need in order to defend our republic in order to get us off the road towards bankruptcy. >> chris: so for instance the folks who agreed to raising the debt ceiling and tide the government over with a continue iting resolution, they are part of the problem? >> and maybe not one specific vote that they have taken say to increase the debt ceiling but the culmination of votes and support for bigger government. they are part of of the problem
and much does have to do with an establishment that doesn't want to see a lot of change in washington, d.c. in the federal centralized government because they are doing just fine with the way that things are going even though the american people aren't doing just fine, they are hurting and they do want to see a change. >> chris: what do you think of what the white house chief of staff jack lew had to say about the birth control flap and specifically about the idea of a healthcare mandate? >> i was shocked at the spin in his message. he sounded like the press secretary. and i don't know why we are not arguing yet. the whole basic premise of the mandate regardless of faith filled americans offended by this assault on their freedom of religion. the basic premise is government again mandating to private employers and to insurance companies what they must provide. what gives government the right to tell us what we must
consume, what we must purchase and what we must provide our employees? >> chris: let's take a look at the overall picture because you really were very critical of obama yesterday in your keynote speech, the economy is improving. the unemployment rate has dropped five months in a row and now down to the lowest point in three years and as a result public approval of the president you can see it up on the screen is up to 48%, the highest since last june. aren't things turning around and doesn't he now have to be favored to win reelection? >> i argue the unemployment numbers by the way that have been released where we are looking now at 8.3% unemployment when really the fact is people have dropped out of the search for employment right now. the numbers have changed i think a lot of it has to do with people just kind of giving up on finding a job right now. and i think that true numbers would reflect that real unemployment is above 10% according to the experts, the
economists really crunching numbers. so i do argue what the the numbers are. ask the 13 million americans who still can't find a job and the 46 million americans living in poverty and the 23% increase in government dependency that has really made our country suffer because we are eliminating the opportunity for all to rise and to succeed in the private sector successfully because of the government growth and dependency. ask those people if they think they are turning around and getting better and i bet you you will hear from the average every day american who is not part of the political bubble but you being impacted by poor policies and failed policies of our president and they will tell you that no, this president and his failed policies should not be favored to win reelection and continue down the road four more years of what we have just seen. >> chris: let's turn to the republican contest, the race for the nomination.
what do you think of mitt romney? >> i think he is a great candidate. i honestly think that we have a good slate of candidates. the four of them all with their individual strengths, chris. and each i believe they are getting stronger. they are getting better and that is what competition provides. that is why i want to see the competition continue. >> chris: interesting because a couple of people said to me when i told them that i was going to talk to you and after watching your speech in your speech you had to say this that the party needs a candidate and i want to get the words right who instinctively turns to constitutional conservative principles. it is too late to teach that. >> yep. >> chris: do you you trust that mitt romney as an instinctive conservative? >> i trust that his idea of conservativism is evolving and i base this on a pretty moderate past that he has had even if some cases a liberal past. here he agreed with mandating
on a state level what his constituents needed to be provided, needed to purchase in the way of healthcare under romney care which, of course, was the precursor to obama care. now, that is a problem. obney care. we'll coin that one. it is evolving. what i want to see is that candidate and i believe that most voters in the gop and independents, we will want to see the candidate who we can trust will just inherently and instinctively turn right and err on the side of conservativism which mines smarter smaller government. >> chris: it sounds like that the point you are not convinced? >> i'm not convinced and i don't think that the majority of gop and independent voters are convinced and that is why you don't see romney get over that hump. he is still in the 30% aisle mark when it comes to approval and primary wins and caucus
wins. he still hasn't risen above that yet because we are not convinced. >> chris: but governor, he has been running for five years. >> and he has spent millions and millions and millions of dollars and he hasn't risen yet. >> chris: what does he need to do to convince you? >> still needs to be able to articulate solutions to the challenges facing america. all four of them. they need to quit beating each other up. we already know that the left and the media ail lyes to the left are going to beat up candidates and attack their reputations and attack their families. we don't need to do that job for them. we need to hear from our candidates the solutions, what is their plan to get us back on the right road in america. we haven't heard that yet. the discussion needs to continue until we hear that. >> chris: how do you compare, you have been honest about romney, how do you compare gingrich and santorum? >> against one another? >> chris: yeah. >> the two of them?
again, everything has their strengths. san tour rum bold about social issues and hasn't shied away or backed off from his true foundational beliefs. i respect that. newt has the historical perspective of how america was built and we became prosperous and safe and voluntarily generous and became an exceptional nation. that historical knowledge can be put to good use as we go forward. we to know about the past in order to successfully proceed into the future. he brings that with him. everybody has their strengths. i'm not going into the negatives because they are already pointing out their negative and the left will do that, too. a good democratic process in the public. >> chris: hbo -- i love the look in your face. hbo has a movie coming out next month game change about the campaign and julie ann moore
plays sarah palin. let's watch. >> must we? ♪ american woman >> you know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull, the stick. >> chris: does she do a good sarah palin? >> i think we will call that the sarah palin employment act and you guys need to thank me for employing more people probably in their imitations of sarah palin than the president has put americans to work. >> chris: a stimulus act? >> it as stimulus act, yes. goodness gracious. i'm not too concerned about an hbo movie based on a false narrative when there are so many other things. >> chris: one more question about this because there is a more serious side and i want to give you an opportunity to respond. you're right, the movie echos the book in pursuing the narrative that you went into a funk during the campaign leading up especially to the debate and i want to just show you some clips because this is going to be out there. take a look.
>> it wasn't my fault. i wasn't properly prepped. >> i want to be with my baby. >> she is on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown. >> telling what to say. what to wear. how to talk. i am not your puppet! >> chris: millions are people are going to see that. >> well, i'm sorry that millions of people are going to waste their time and i'm sure they have more productive and constructive things to do. >> chris: is there any truth to that? >> i was never in a funk. thank god i have the right perspective on what really matters in life, chris and there is no need to ever be in a funk when you know what right priorities are and what really matters in the life. >> chris: are you angry and upset this story will get told to a bigger audience. >> i'm ambivalent. i won't waste my time washing it and encourage others to find something more productive to do.
>> chris: you have an article that touched my heart in the latest issue of newsweek magazine and you can see it up on the screen about life with trick your little boy who has downs syndrome and you say when wakes up every morning he applauds. >> he teaches us more than we will ever be able to teach him. he looks around and seems to me that he is saying despite what the world is going to throw at him and anybody else who may be considered a bit disadvantaged he applauds the day like come on world, show me what you got and i'm going to handle it and i wrote that article. i was asked to by news week in response to what rick santorum did and publicly i'm showing us what really true good priorities are when got off the campaign trail in order to spend time with his special needs daughter, and i thought that was a beautiful gesture and a wonderful public testimony of putting family first that rick did. >> you say you don't teach him, he teaches all of you. >> he teaches us.
>> chris: and that he is a blessing. >> he teaches us and chris todd and i and trig's siblings we went from a fearful time not knowing what to expect to this time in our life that couldn't be any better when we see and touch and are surrounded by such love coming from this child that again keeps us grounded, keeps everything in perspective. and allows just kind of all of the rest of the stuff on the priefry to just go away and not matter so much when we get to focus on this blessing. >> chris: governor palin, thank you. thanks for coming in. good to have you inside the beltway in the real america. >> in the real america. >> well, happy abraham lincoln's birthday to you and may we remember what he thought about washington and how he wanted to change, washington, into a voice for the people. let us do that today. >> chris: and we should say yesterday was your birthday so happy birthday right back to you. >> thank you. appreciate it. >> chris: coming up, the sunday panel on president obama's
way. >> chris: president obama talking about his revision this week of a policy that catholic institutions must provide birth control insurance for their employees. and it is time for our sunday group. bill kristol of the weekly standard. mara liasson of national public radio. kimberly strassel from the "wall street journal" and former senator evan bayh. how badly did the white house handle the issue and do you think that the president's revision that he announced on friday gets them out of the political mess? >> no, because the revision is more of a doubling down. he did not fundamentally back off on what he thinks the federal government should require employers and or insurance companies that employers use to provide. and i think it is a huge issue and going to get bigger not smaller, i believe. and it wasn't just a mistake of communication. 20s to the heart of what obama care is about and what president obama's vision of the federal government is about and
i think conservatives and republicans have a real opportunity which they haven't quite taken advantage yet of really framing this as a big moment as not just making it about let's have more exemptions for more catholic institutions but explaining do you believe in limited government or believe that the government should tell us routinely how to conduct every aspect of our lives. >> chris: mara, does the revision fix it? >> i think if you are talking about the big argument about religious liberty and government mandates yes, the republicans have a chance to do something with it. from the white house point of view i think it does fix it. this he could have fixe fixed t this way months ago. the fact they let the culture wars bloom again by waiting so long was a mistake on their part. if they can keep the argument about contraception i think they are on strong grounds. they believe the majority of women, even catholic women are on their side when it comes to should contraception be available.
catholic women don't like to see the church institutions forced to do something they don't want to do but the compromise or accommodation appears to fix that. >> chris: i want to pick up on something that bill said at the beginning and something that i discussed with jack lew the white house chief of staff. perhaps the cost imagining part is it reminds people what it is that they don't like about obama care and that is the government can tell you, you you have to buy insurance. tell a private company they have to provide a product for free and decide which catholic institutions are exempt and which aren't. >> i mean bill is right in that republicans have missed this a little bit in that they are suggesting this is somehow a controversy specific to this president and that he made this decision and therefore he is at fault. there is an element of that that is true. if you have government directed healthcare this is the sort of controversy you will have day in and day out because basically government directed healthcare says we will tell you what kind of health service
you get at what quantity, at what price and who delivers it. if it offends your religious, too bad. and obama care ranges from something like this a religious liberty question up to the individual mandate, government telling you what to do. >> chris: senator? >> there is no question, chris, it was mishandled but they finally arrived at a current place. if you look at polling even a majority of catholics agree with the compromise. and ultimately for the republicans, chris, if mitt romney is the nominee, romney care looks like obama care so what is the argument that they make? the final two things are this could bubble up again this summer when the supreme court rules on the individual mandate and put it right back to square one. this is not going to go away any time soon but the administration has arrived at a letter better place. >> chris: i want to talk about another issue, some would say
another revision and flip this week. bill, the president changed position on another issue which is the question of whether or not he supports private contributions to the big super pacs, unlimited contributions to the so called independent super pacs which can raise unlimited money to back a candidate. here is what the president said back in 21st century. 2010. >> thanks to a supreme court decision called citizens united they are being helped along this year by special interest groups spending unlimited amounts of money on attack ads. that is not just a threat to democrats. that is a threat to our democracy. >> it may have been a threat to the democracy but this week the president announced that the administration and campaign will support donations unlimited donations to the super pacs and white house officials will participate in some of the fundraisers. why the switch? >> i'm shocked. president obama the greatest fundraiser in american political history has decided
he has here is a chance to raise more money. he busted through the public financing limits in 2008. something he supported as senator and said he would abide by. of course, he will take full advantage of the super pacs and raise a ton of money and republicans who think they can outspend him will be wrong. republicans need to frame this as a fundamental choice between two visions of america not who is going to raise $972 million as opposed to $921 million. >> chris: what about the argument, mara, i don't agree with it but it is the law. the republican super pacs raised four times as much in 2011 and this is the obama argument we can't unilaterally disarm. >> the two numbers 91 and 19. 91 million is what cross roads and the republican super pacs is raised and $19 million. i disagree with bill. i think the republicans and all
of the affiliated super pacs are on track to outraise and outspend whatever the president can race. >> do you think that will make a difference? >> i think that is what is motivating the change. >> certainly motivating. >> the disparity was so great and in this election in a close election which i think this one will be, neither camp is going to give up any advantage. >> chris: the threat to democracy argument. >> thatle have to wait for another day. >> chris: contribute to the campaign is the first priority. >> that's right. >> we have to take a break. when we come back, the republican presidential race takes another new turn. we will talk about the results this week and where the campaign stands now.
i believe i'm the one person in the race who actually can beat the president. i believe it is essential that we beat this president and take america back and that we keep america as it has always been the hope of the earth. thank you. >> chris: mitt romney back on the winning track taking the caucuses in addition to winning the cpac straw poll. rick santorum on tuesday and now you romney with victories in maine and a hotel room in washington, d.c. where is the race now? >> it is open because the electorate has not made a decision and that is what was behind the sore of rick santorum in the three races this week. this they have not settled on mitt romney and are resolutely rejectth and resisting the mitt romney narrative. he had a good couple of days but he has to figure out how to sell this deal to voters and to do that he has to stop talking just about himself. this is a me-me candidacy.
all about his biography and what he has done and what people are waiting to hear are his ideas and if he has them how is he going to fix the economy and what is he going to do. he is going to have the speech later this month in michigan and there is talk that he will come up with a new economic plan and we'll see where that takes him. >> chris: senator romney tried to shore up his conservative credentials at cpac in a 25 minute speech and this is the kind of thing reporters do and he apparently mentioned the word conservative 25 times but there was one ad lib that struck off off note. take a look at that. >> i fought against long odds in a deep blue state but i was a severely conservative republican governor. >> chris: one someone said it is as if he has a dictionary english to conservative but can't quite get the. >> >> translator: lakes right. >> reminds me of the old ann richards line poor mitt he was
born with a silver foot in his mouth. it does raise an underlying problem. a great week for the obama campaign. the longer this goes on the more it harms the republicans because it confronts the romney campaign with a dilemma. what they have to do to appeal to the base may be offputting to the independents they need in the fall. the longer that goes on the harder the healing process will be. also raises the issue perhaps most fundamentally of any successful presidential campaign about more than tactics, more than money. more than organization. more than even anger at obama. has to be about an underlying cause that you are passionate about. he has trouble articulating that in an authentic way. the more this drags on the greater the chance of a third-party candidate in the fall perhaps under the american's elect banner if that were to happen that would be the end of the republican chances for regaining the presidency. >> chris: let's switch to the
other candidates in the field from romney. santorum a big week. three upsets in minnesota, colorado and missouri. he now leads gingrich not polls, in delegates, in victories. four states to one state. is he he now the conservative alternative to mitt romney? >> yes. i mean, yes. this is a race one shouldn't say anything definitive about because god knows it is unpredictable and volatile and fluid. rick santorum now has a real chance if he beats gingrich and maybe even romney in arizona and or michigan on february 28 and does well on march 6 which i think right now, santorum is on track to do. i think he becomes the conservative to mitt romney. ron paul says in and gets his 10% or 15% or 20% of the vote and i think santorum has a chance to beat romney one on one. i'm not so sure ultimately romney is going to win. >> chris: let me raise another interesting development this week with you, mara. the narrative has been that
republicans are fired up, chomping at the bit to beat barack obama. take la akron at the turnout in the gop contests so far. turnout was up in iowa, in new hampshire, and especially as you can see in south carolina. but it has been down sharply recently in florida, nevada, and minnesota and in fact all of the races on tuesday night. why aren't republicans showing up to vote? >> well, i think they are not thrilled with their candidates. there is another way to look at the statistics, too. if you you leave out the independents and talk about republican turnout it is down in some of the other states, too. this is a problem. this is going to be the year they had the big enthusiasm gap working on their side. the other thing we learned in the last couple of races is mitt romney seems to win when spends millions of dollars obliterating opponents with lots of negative attack ads. when doesn't spend a lot of money he loses. that underscores what kim is talking about which is he has to present a positive affirmative vision.
not just attack on obama and not just my resume and experience shows i can fix the economy and that is even more urgent because the economy looks like it is turning around and you don't want to be the pessimist quickened saying it is not good when people like clint eastwood in the famous halftime ad are telling you -- >> chris: but that was nonpolitical. that was just about selling cars. >> he has to secure the nomination and beat off rick santorum but he also has to fill in the blanks and do something more than biography and really put out big bold ideas. >> chris: what do you make of the turnout numbers? >> when you get to florida it is when mckinley romney and mr. gingrich started beating on each other. i think the overall enthusiasm is good. the numbers going to outside groups. this is a republican electorate that does want to beat the president but don't necessary little like all of the negativity and this is about to get thrown on rick santorum coming up. >> chris: we have about 30 seconds left.
is it the negativity of the campaign or people aren't excited about the candidates? >> the lack of a passionate vision or cause animating the romney campaign. and the enthusiasm gap is a problem. they ultimately will be motivated to vote against barack obama. what george bush understood is it was all about the independents. the severe conservativism is much too limiting and doesn't address the challenge in the fall which is the 5% or 6% that can go either way. that is the sweet spot he needs to get to. the longer the nomination process lasts the longer it takes to get there. >> chris: we have to go. thank you, panel. see you next week. check out panel plus where our group picks up with the discussion on our website fox news sunday .com and we will post the discussion before noon eastern time. up next, our power player of
abraham lincoln was born 203 years ago today. literally thousands of books have been written about one of our greatest presidents the debate continues over the meaning of his life. here is our power player of the week. >> seems much more accessible than washington or jefferson. the born in a log cabin, he embodies the american dream. >> richard nor son smith is
talking about america's enduring fascination with abraham lincoln. he is one of the driving forces behind a museum on lincoln's legacy that opened across from ford theater where lincoln was killed 147 years ago. >> its museum that looks to our evolving relationship with lincoln, not only the historical lincoln but the lincoln of myth. >> chris: he gave us a tour. it begins with what happened after lincoln died. a replica of the railway car that took the president's remains on a journey through a dozen cities. >> it's an extraordinary pageant of grief. >> that is where the story begins. the center chronicles how presidents have embraced lincoln. >> they took lincoln as a source of inspiration. richard nixon was 12 years old and hung lincoln's picture over
his bed. barack obama was sworn into office on the lincoln bible. >> the centerpiece is this sculpture of books that have been written about lincoln. more than any other person that has lived. >> these are some of the 15,000 volumes have this have been written to date. there is no shortage of people out there adding to the list. >> chris: why the fascination? beyond the fact he was one of us his presidency confronted so many issues that still consumed the country, war and peace and civil liberties and continuing struggle with race. >> the american communist party has claimed lincoln. you know, lincoln has been appropriated sometimes abused in the name of just about every cause you can imagine. >> chris: that is one of the things they will study.
the nature of leadership. its subject that fascinates smith who has run five presidential libraries from lincoln's to reagan's. >> if you look at the tour, each in their own way made america a little bit more democratic. >> chris: he hopes visitors to the center will come away with the same understanding of lincoln as all those historians that contributed to the tower, but the last word will never be written. >> it's a museum about an after life. it addresses that issue, that ongoing question of why does abraham lincoln matter? why 150 years later, he is still so important to us. >> chris: more than 750,000 people a year visit ford's theater. now with the new center they think many more will come to see what they are calling a lincoln campus in the heart of washington. that is it for today.